Here comes the holiday season. A wonderful time of year to see family and friends, share good meals and have fun together. When you work at home, however, the balance between work and family can be especially challenging. Working at home during the holidays can be more challenging yet.
Sometimes the balance must be tilted one way or the other. You may have a work at home job that requires you to work certain hours on a holiday. People who work outside the home face that same problem. Your boss says you have to work, you work if you want to keep the job. It can be that simple.
Other times it’s harder to find that balance. You need to make a living, but you want to form those happy memories as a family during the holidays. Everyone wants you to join in the fun, but you can’t spare as much time off work as they’re asking. Working at home isn’t necessarily as flexible as some think, after all.
Treat Your Work At Home Job As A Real Job
Your work at home job is a real job; prioritize it. Sometimes your work shift will require that you miss the family dinner or whatever. If you’ve ever worked retail, food service, public safety, or healthcare jobs, you know that routine. It’s a part of the job and you deal with it, even if some family members don’t understand.
It can be particularly difficult to explain that your work at home job isn’t always flexible about these things. You may find that some family members still don’t understand that a work at home job is every bit as real as any other job and that it puts certain demands on your time.
Let family members know when you can see them as early as possible. This gives them time to get used to the idea that you may not be able to show up when they want you to.
Don’t call in sick on a holiday if you can help it. It will make you look bad with your employer unless you’re really sick. This is particularly true if you have a seasonal work at home job. If you’re hired to work just for the holiday season, you are probably required to work the holidays themselves.
If you must have holiday time off, ask for it as early as possible. Some jobs won’t give it regardless. Holiday shifts may be required. If a holiday is a busy time for your employer, you’re pretty much stuck. It’s one of the disadvantages of working at home during the holidays.
It’s no fun missing out on family events, but it can be worse to miss out on income your family needs.
Prioritize Your Home Business
Your home business may be extra busy during the holidays, or things may slow down. This depends on the kind of home business you’re running.
If things slow down, you may have it easy when it comes to making family time, so long as nothing comes up. You take the time off and have fun. Make up the time as needed a little later.
If your home business is busy during the holiday season, you need to work on it as necessary. As it is your business, you may at least be able to schedule yourself around the big family celebrations. That’s not true for all home businesses, but it is for many.
Then again, it might be time to consider hiring a virtual assistant. Start using one before the holiday season starts so that they are familiar with your needs.
Prepare In Advance
If there’s anything you can do to prepare things in advance, do so. If you have a blog, work some extra hours before the holidays to set up your blog posts. Load up your Hootsuite account to handle appropriate social media posting for you.
If you ship out physical products, organize and package them so that all they need is a mailing label and postage when it’s time for them to go. The more you do in advance, the less time it will take you when you would rather be with family.
Sometimes you will need to lose some sleep to get things ready in advance. A few late nights or early mornings can greatly increase your family time during the holiday season.
Are You Hosting?
If you’re hosting family events, all of this gets even more complicated. Do your best to avoid hosting during times that you might have to take calls or otherwise need a quiet workspace. The more people there are in your house, the harder it will be to get them to be quiet for you.
If you must have quiet work time, talk it over with your guests before they arrive, especially if children are involved. It’s so hard to keep excited children quiet, and kids are always excited at family gatherings. Make plans for how the noise level will be kept down and everyone will be kept out of your way while you work.
If your home office is the guest room, these discussions are particularly important. You don’t want someone coming in to grab something from their suitcase when you need to work. Even if you don’t need quiet in that moment, they’re all too likely to want to stop and chat a while.
Make Your Celebrations Flexible
I grew up with very flexible family holiday celebrations. Combine divorced parents with grandparents who would like a visit, and these things took days sometimes. Christmas gatherings could take until New Years sometimes.
To be honest, sometimes that was a part of the fun. Lots of parties, food, and presents over many days isn’t a bad thing. Tiring, especially for the adults, but not bad.
Accepting that some of your holiday celebrations may not happen on the day itself can take some of the stress away. Do you really have to see everyone right on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or any other holiday?
Come to an agreement with family and friends on when you will see them. It may take some time for some family members to accept that they don’t get to see you at their traditional time, but that’s often the way it has to be.
Your religious observances may be more difficult to move, but as your work rarely takes the entire day, you should be able to find a way to manage that part of your holiday celebrations.
Know When To Say No
Family holiday celebrations often come with a lot of requests, even when you aren’t hosting. Bring this, make that, you’re in charge… you know the routine.
If people start asking you for more than you have time to handle, say no. It’s not always easy, especially when it’s something you have done in the past. Saying no, however, can greatly decrease the stress you feel over the holidays, and that’s a huge help.
Relax And Have Fun
Finally, when your work schedule allows, relax and have fun with your family. One of the best parts of working at home during the holidays is that you don’t have a huge commute to get back home. You’re there.
Close your home office door if you have one and make some real time for your family when you don’t need to work. Leave your social media alone. Focus on what your family and your holidays mean to you. Time enough to think about work later.